Metoposaurs and Aetosaurs

Matt, the Curator of the museum collection here at Petrified Forest shows me the likeness of a Metoposaur on each side–an 8′ long lizard/salamander type of critter that lived about 220M years ago.  This is my next project.

This appears to be the left clavicle based upon the ray pattern which is bone, not tissue.  This plate was pretty much intact but also collected in the area were dozens of isolated fragments carried down by gravity over time.

Every piece must first be cleaned with a pin-vice, brush and perhaps a light water wash.

The next task is to assemble these parts–here are about 20 pieces that begin to take shape–a three day endeavor.  Some fit perfectly and some not.

While the glue is drying, I clean off this Aetosaur plate, we think–like an armadillo’s that articulate along each side of this critter.  This is very thin and was a challenge to assemble.  We make a top case and flip it over like an omelette.

With more glue to set up, I tackle this “jaw” which turned out to perhaps be a rib–species unknown.

Enter the wet lab.  After all this prepping and assembly, we take the matrix that we’ve saved and sift it through sieves down to 180 microns.

Here’s the washed material.  The right (coarsest) tray is simple to check out but the left one is extremely fine sand-like material

While sifting through this finest matrix, I do a rough calculation that there are 25,500,000 grains of sand here to look through!

This is the microscope view with of the second finest sieve with a 1 cm scale shown.  Each cm2 of the finest has about 2500 grains or 25/mm2.  This tests one’s patience but there are rewards…..

….Finding little critter teeth, also fish scales and the like.  Here are five teeth parts compared with a pencil tip.  The little triangle one at 8 o’clock is about 1 mm wide.  Some of these are Phytosaur teeth fragments (juveniles) and others are fish, perhaps in their diet or just hanging around.

The smallest is believed to be from a Xenosaur, but let me run this by the experts again.  Note the second tooth.

OK–enough dinos (proto-dinos actually).  Here are a few scenes around Holbrook AZ.

Today’s modern dinosaurs are likely ferro-cement or similar.  This is not an authentic teepee either.

This totem pole would never pass in Alaska.  Another roadside attraction.

We had two pretty good storms that closed I-40 and the park, twice–an unusual event.  Here the second storm if seen through the Airstream door.  Note the painted tree around the door frame turns dioramic into the bar at the right….an Airstream with class–and it will be featured in Airstream Life this summer…..   I’ll be on the road for a couple days–Denver, Berkeley, Albuquerque, Jackson Hole and then Washington DC for another stab at lobbying.  Stay tuned!

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